Civil Society Welcomes Bipartisan U.S. Legislation to Advance the Global Youth, Peace and Security Agenda
14 March 2020- Washington, D.C., USA. – Generations For Peace and partners The Alliance for Peacebuilding, Search for Common Ground, UNOY Peacebuilders, STAND: The student-led movement to end mass atrocities, Peace Direct, and FCNL, welcome the introduction of H.R. 6174, the Youth, Peace and Security Act of 2020, by Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and John Curtis (R-UT) in the United States House of Representatives. Young people are on the frontlines of building peace worldwide yet often face profound structural barriers when seeking to drive positive change in their home countries and foreign assistance funds from abroad. The Youth, Peace and Security Act of 2020 (YPS Act) would require the U.S. government – in collaboration with global civil society – to establish a policy of support for youth peacebuilders and increase U.S. direct assistance for youth-led peacebuilding programs. By establishing a U.S. policy for supporting youth peacebuilders and creating a dedicated funding stream, the YPS Act will enable the United States to more effectively reduce and prevent conflict, promoting sustainable peace worldwide while ensuring a more equitable distribution of power dynamics.
In 2014, the world’s youth population rose to 1.8 billion, eclipsing the adult population in scores of developing countries. It is estimated that one in four young people today are living in or are otherwise affected by armed conflicts and violence. Youth populations have long been at the forefront of grassroots efforts for peace and justice – creating youth-led movements, organizations, and networks to prevent recurring cycles of violence, mitigate negative effects of conflict, and strengthen social cohesion and resilience. Young people also play vital roles in preventing recurring cycles of violence and becoming the primary grassroots actors in conflict-affected areas.
This bill establishes a U.S. policy for the meaningful participation of youth in overseas peacebuilding and conflict prevention, management, resolution, and recovery efforts, where youth remain underrepresented despite proven capacities and contributions. In numerous evaluations and studies, young people have reported feeling systematically excluded and even stigmatized by national policies as well as foreign assistance in their country—which renders U.S. foreign assistance less effective in fragile environments, as young people are often the population majority and catalytic leaders in building more just and peaceful states. By supporting young peacebuilders, the U.S. can achieve cost-effective impact. Globally, most youth-led organizations operate on less than $10,000 a year, and empowering young leaders delivers a huge return on investment.
Generations For Peace is proud to co-lead – with Alliance for Peacebuilding, Search for Common Ground, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Direct, and UNOY — a coalition of more than 30 non-governmental organizations in support of this vital legislation and commends Congressional co-sponsors for elevating U.S. leadership on youth-led peacebuilding. Adoption of this bill would make the United States the first country to mandate YPS as a foreign policy and assistance priority, and we welcome further bipartisan support and youth engagement towards this goal.